June 23, 2006: Dr. Allan R. Ronald, a pioneer of the University of Manitoba's world-renowned infectious disease research program in Africa, has been named the recipient of the 2006 Wightman Award.
The prestigious award, which is given by the Gairdner Foundation, recognizes Canadians who have demonstrated outstanding leadership in medicine and medical science.
The announcement was made on June 22 by Dr. John Dirks, president of the Gairdner Foundation. The Gairdner Medical Advisory Board cited Ronald "for his leadership in developing the specialty of clinical infectious disease in Canada and for his exceptional international contribution in Africa."
"We are most pleased that Dr. Ronald was chosen from a group of outstanding Canadians for his special achievement in medicine, not only in Canada, but the world," said Dirks. "An extraordinarily modest man, he has quietly and determinedly pushed for improvements for those afflicted with infectious disease, including HIV/AIDS, without fanfare or desiring public acclaim. He is there simply to help and to lead."
Ronald has spent the better part of three decades studying infectious diseases in Africa including helping to establish one of the first clinical investigation units studying HIV/AIDS in Africa in 1978.
In 2002, Ronald retired from a distinguished 35-year career as a professor and medical researcher but has kept busy fostering the HIV/AIDS Care and Prevention Program in Uganda. This successful launch of a drug distribution program has received worldwide media coverage.
Born in Portage la Prairie, Ronald trained in Manitoba, Maryland, Washington and Pakistan before returning to the University of Manitoba's Faculty of Medicine in 1968 to head its infectious disease unit.
A full professor since 1976, he led the first department of medical microbiology (1976-1985) and then the department of internal medicine (1985-1990) and served as the Medicine's associate dean of research (1993-1999).
Ronald also applied his expertise in Winnipeg's teaching hospitals, initially as Head of Clinical Microbiology and later as Physician-in-Chief at the Health Sciences Centre and subsequently at St. Boniface General Hospital as Head of Infectious Diseases
In 1979, he was invited to coordinate a research training centre in Nairobi, Kenya, where he and other members of the Faculty of Medicine have significantly advanced HIV/AIDS prevention programs and the understanding of HIV transmission. He has been a visiting professor at the University of Nairobi on over 40 occasions and at the University of Hong Kong, where he assisted in the development of an Infectious Disease Program.
In addition, he has written more than 400 publications and served on various boards and councils including the International Society of Infectious Diseases (as president), the American College of Physicians, and the Medical Research Council.
He has received awards from, among others, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, the Canadian Association of Professors of Medicine, the American Venereal Disease Association, and the Canadian Medical Association, which in 2003 presented him with its highest honour, the F.N.G. Starr Award. Ronald is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and an Officer of the Order of Canada.
Established in 1957 by Toronto businessman, James Gairdner, the Gairdner Foundation (www.gairdner.org) first recognized achievement in medical science in 1959. Since then, the Gairdners have grown to be one of the most prestigious international awards in medical research, recognizing outstanding contributions by medical scientists worldwide whose work will significantly improve the quality of life. The award includes a $30,000 prize.
Since 2003, the lead national sponsor of the Gairdner awards has been the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the major federal agency responsible for funding health research in Canada, supporting the work of 10,000 researchers in universities, teaching hospitals and research institutes across Canada. It aims to excel in the creation of new health knowledge, and to translate that knowledge from the research setting into real world applications. The results are improved health for Canadians, more effective health services and products, and a strengthened Canadian health care system.
The Gairdner Wightman Award is named after the late Professor K.G.R. Wightman, former President of the Gairdner Foundation and Eaton Professor of Medicine at the University of Toronto.
The Wightman has now been awarded 11 times, the latest in 2001 when it was given to Dr. Henry Friesen, Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Manitoba. Dr. Friesen was the driving force behind the creation of the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, and the Chairman Emeritus of Genome Canada.
For more information, contact:
University of Manitoba
Phone: (204) 474-7962